May, 2023

ETP & UNICEF launch third phase of partnership

ETP and UNICEF announce the third phase of their partnership in Assam, India, to help improve the lives of children,
Reshama Karmakar, 23, a member of the Proagoti Adolescent Girls Group on Dikom Tea Estate, Dibrugarh, Assam, India.
Reshama Karmakar, 23, a member of the Proagoti Adolescent Girls Group on Dikom Tea Estate, Dibrugarh, Assam, India.
Reshama Karmakar, 23, a member of the Proagoti Adolescent Girls Group on Dikom Tea Estate, Dibrugarh, Assam, India.
Reshama Karmakar, 23, a member of the Proagoti Adolescent Girls Group on Dikom Tea Estate, Dibrugarh, Assam, India.

The third phase of the ground-breaking partnership to help improve the lives of tens of thousands of children, women, and families in a third of Assam’s tea estates, is announced today. ETP and UNICEF have been working together since 2014 to support children, women, and families living in tea growing communities in Assam, India. There are many hardships facing tea growing communities, including a lack of adequate healthcare, poor nutrition, a lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, under-investment in education, and a need for enhanced child protection. The Improving Lives Phase III programme aims to support children, women, and families living across 205 tea estates, by improving the underlying systems which impact the lives of workers and their families and thereby driving sustainable change for children.

The programme is an example of the power of scaling-up partnerships- by working with two major tea associations, the programme will deliver systemic change that will tackle the root causes of some of the most complex issues facing people living in Assam’s tea estates.

The Improving Lives programme helps children to realise their potential, despite the societal issues that may stand in their way.

Over the past seven years, the ETP and UNICEF partnership has made a huge difference to the lives of children, women, and families in 205 tea estates of Assam. Achievements of note:

  • 300,000 community members, including over 137,000 children and young people across 205 tea estates have been reached.
  • 362 Adolescent Girls Groups (with a total of 27,958 girls registered in all) and 167 Adolescent Boys Groups (with 6,301 boys registered) have been formed across 205 tea estates.
  • All 205 estates now have recognised Child Protection Committees (CPCs), which help protect children’s rights, and 106 cases of child marriage have been averted in the project areas by the CPCs.
  • 76% of households in tea garden communities now have improved sanitation and safe drinking water sources. Over 120,000 pregnant women and children under five have been linked to healthcare services. Each tea garden has one mother support group which is trained on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) behaviours which disseminates messages about diet diversity and complementary feeding practices within the wider community.
  • An example of the results of the programme’s advocacy efforts is the creation of a “Free Drugs and Diagnostics Scheme” by the Assam Government providing better access to essential drugs, surgical items, consumables, and disinfectants by making them free of cost to 651 tea garden hospitals.
  • In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Improving Lives programme adapted to restrictions and 20,000 children and young people were able to continue their learning remotely. Due to the vital role of WASH in the prevention of COVID-19, WASH programme activities in 2020 incorporated elements that supported COVID-19 response.
  • Adolescents at 159 tea estates were supported to set up nearly 5,000 handwashing facilities at the entry points to their homes.
  • Over 15,000 water points were disinfected (chlorination of drinking water) to manage drinking water across tea estates
  • Over 1,200 adolescent club members reached with WASH and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) messages, and an additional 220 adolescent girls were trained on how to make reusable cloth pads.

Building on the learning from Phases I and II, the programme has shifted its approach to supporting dialogue between local actors. It will work with government ministries to roll out services on tea estates, with tea estate managers to integrate Family Friendly Policies into the workplace, and with community platforms and leaders to build inclusive and sustainable governance.

We’re excited to work with UNICEF on a third phase of this programme and for it to increase the impact of the partnership, including more stakeholders in the work and engaging government in the issues that are so well understood by UNICEF. ETP’s members were insistent that we continue the collaboration, and rightly so!

Jenny Costelloe Executive Director of ETP

The Improving Lives programme has had such an incredible impact on tea communities in Assam, so it’s really exciting to see what can be achieved as we enter the next phase of the partnership. Delivering systemic change will take a collaborative approach, so it’s thanks to partners like the Ethical Tea Partnership that UNICEF is able to reach even more children and young people, helping them to realise their potential, despite the societal issues that stand in their way.

Jon Sparkes Chief Executive at The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK)

The three-year programme is supported and funded by ETP members: Taylors of Harrogate, Jacob Douwe Egberts, Ostfriesische Tee Gesellschaft GmbH & Co KG (OTG GmbH), Tata Consumer Products Limited; and The Starbucks Foundation.

About The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP)

The Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) is a global membership organisation working to catalyse long-term, systemic change, to benefit everybody who works in tea – especially people in tea-producing regions. ETP’s work addresses the key issues within economics, equality, and the environment. It focuses on delivering locally-led projects that involve communities, supporting the private sector to pioneer new business models, and engaging stakeholders to support policies that positively impact people in tea. ETP’s members include a range of tea companies, from the sector’s start-ups to the biggest multi-nationals. ETP convenes and facilitates collaboration between its members, businesses, governments, and civil society which enable it to mobilise its resources and deliver its broad range of work. Founded in 1997, ETP is a non-profit organisation and is supported by both its international members and other private and public sector donors.


UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work for children. We also promote and protect children’s rights in the UK and internationally. We are a UK charity, entirely funded by supporters.

United Kingdom Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), Registered Charity No. 1072612 (England & Wales), SC043677 (Scotland).

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